Do we actually quite like LOCKDOWN? Plus another Memory List…

I’ve recently got into the lockdown habit of buying a Sunday newspaper, The Sunday Times. Journalist Rod Liddle was commenting about the fact we rather like this lockdown existence (above). 

I’ve mentioned all the negative aspects of the lockdown a couple of posts ago and don’t wish to appear flippant about this dreadful time but there is a positive a flip side.

Not having to see people you don’t really like is always good for an introvert (above). Personally, I like being with people and have been told I’m chatty but don’t always want to talk. Maybe that’s why I love going to the pub. You can chat to the locals or sit quietly on your own.

Not having to hug too is ok and I think this will be a permanent change. The kissing, on both cheeks. Really? People have become friendly but that is because they don’t have to talk now, just smile in the ‘yes, I’m walking round you, because of social distancing’ kind of way.

The changes this crisis will provoke are extraordinary. The main one, will be travel and commuting. I’m not sure people will commute to work like they used to. Now businesses realise employees can work at home, this will become the new normal.

Also, people don’t need to travel for business. They can hold meetings on Zoom and can action projects remotely. Hopefully, this will reduce costs, time and be good for the environment. Who doesn’t miss their two hour commute up to London or wherever? It is not just cost, but time as well rendering a productive work/life balance.

Who wants to be crammed on a bus/tube/train? Why not hop on a bike and wind all the motorists up in your lycra gear? Or we could be northern European, and use bikes as a tool to go about our business in normal attire and not look like a twit. Could we not?

I love to travel but the airports Ugh!!! It starts as you wait for your flight to be called. Mr Muppet sits on a chair with a bag on the next chair so you can’t sit down. Except Mrs I-will-sit-down (me obvs) will march up to said person and say directly whilst pointing to the seat piled up with wifey’s bags, excuse me, can I sit? Always works. Also, why do people queue up for 50 minutes just so they can be one of the first people to sit and wait on the plane?

We can now play spot the plane in the sky too.

The lockdown has given me time to deep clean and decorate, which I probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Also, it is good to be at one with nature again and actually hear the birds sing. From talking to people who are able to work, most seem to favour working from home and hope it will continue in some format. In fact, reading and listening to views on lockdown, it is apparent many people will view their whole lives differently and make radical changes.

Apparently, 68% of people have quite enjoyed the lockdown as they can slow down and see their children or just do what they want.

What about the children? There has been a post going around social media about two older people chatting. It starts by one remembering the cruelty of the virus, the deaths, the lost jobs, and suffering. The ageing gentleman replies by saying he doesn’t remember the lockdown that way. He was four years old, and just remembers playing in the sunny garden with his brother and seeing mum and dad all the time, laughing and spending time together due to the fact the parents were always around (working from home). This may seem sentimental and yet I do know a mum who posts daily ‘pictures of happiness’ of family life. The child she photos, will remember this time fondly.

(Yes, as a side note, I do realise how hard it can be to have children around 24/7 days a week.)

Maybe one of the issues here is many people have realised they didn’t like their ‘normal life’.

Let’s be honest, nothing much will change immediately because most of us haven’t succumbed to the virus. We will be socially distancing for months to come. So perhaps we should try to be positive?

For me, it will be nice to see family/friends/community again. I miss shopping (call me shallow), my little business, the occasional lunch or dinner out many times a week. Everyone has their own crap to deal with and I’ve certainly had mine. It is time to enjoy life and make the best of things. Isn’t it?

Many permanent changes will occur now and in the future such as home working, cycling/walking to work, using copious amounts of sanitiser, baking bread, and stocking up on food cans and bog rolls!

Makes you think doesn’t it? Do we need to introduce a fresh lifestyle? 


The Good Stuff list:
Key workers
NHS
Quiet roads (managing traffic better?)
Local shopping
Neighbourhood schemes/groups
Remote working/socialising
Online courses/virtual tours
Losing your mobile phone constantly (at home)
Not having to hug/kiss people in an offensively continental   manner
Writing daily on this blog
Free schedule 
People are ‘war time’ friendly
Altruistic attitudes
Time to do stuff – even gardening
New hobbies
New businesses – Thai takeaway
Relax
Read books/newspapers/articles
Podcasts – I’m hooked!
Birdsong (dawn chorus)
Enjoy the countryside (blossom)
Baking Bread/cakes
Local produce 
The weather! (Weird how it has been mostly sunny since this all started.)

Anything else?

 

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.

Andrea x

A Ramble about Lockdown Projects and Stuff..(Trials and Tribulations)

Kitchen
I decided to write about my exciting projects that have ensued during the last couple of weeks. The first being, (not at all exciting) is decluttering my kitchen cupboards and shock horror deep cleaning them and spraying with disinfectant (obviously) which, due to the lockdown thought might be prudent. Not exactly going to stop me getting Coronavirus but still. I also managed to get some yukky, stuck on, cooking debris surrounding and on the cooker hood off too. Very pleased with the overall result. The kitchen is now sparkling. One thing I’ve learnt about Lockdown cleaning is, it is better to concentrate on smaller areas but deep clean them properly. Boring as it is, at least it is done and you can declutter at the same time. I listen to podcasts during this task to make it less tedious. Oh, and who else is washing up their food shopping? The hot soapy water comes out and everything gets a good sloshing. Jeez. What a waste of time.


Lounge
Now I hate being stuck in the house for too long but even I’ve realised if the lockdown is going on for ages (ever!) then I will have to make use of the time. To be perfectly honest, all this flinging myself around the lounge, doing home workouts, doesn’t achieve much. Well, not really.
Now our lounge needed decorating and hubby and I hate decorating but I decided we should get on with it rather than procrastinating. Let’s face it, there isn’t much else to do.
Incidentally, I’ve started a small business which I’m supposed to be making official with an online shop but it includes being out with the public and so this isn’t going to happen now. So, the time had come to just get on with other isolation shite! Decorating. 
Bless him, hubby doesn’t do things by half. If we decorate it has to be thorough, and I mean thorough. This includes removing the blinds, our pictures, furniture, and covering the floor with taped up old sheets. We then locate and fill in the tiny cracks, and then rub them down and wash every surface. All this took a couple of days before we even start to paint. Phew. Exhausting this decorating malarkey. I do agree with doing all of this though, and as we haven’t decorated the lounge for ages, it was necessary to do it thoroughly. Also, it kept me occupied and for the first time in my life I quite enjoyed the tasks.
During all this, we texted the youngsters and my daughter was astounded and remarked: “Two days preparation? Cor, I barely do an hour and then tosh the paint on!”
Which to be honest, is what I suspected. People who enjoy decorating, probably don’t do it properly! There. I’ve said it. To be fair, sometimes it doesn’t need all the preparation but our lounge certainly did. Young people just move furniture out of the way, shove a few sheets over their stuff and paint. Yes, I’m probably being unfair. Who cares? I’m in a grumpy lockdown mood these days haha. Anyway, we did eventually paint the ceiling, walls and that was another surprise. I started painting the wall a light yellow and moaned I couldn’t see where I’d painted. My husband found the original paint pot and realised we’d only gone and picked the same colour! Couldn’t believe it, after all these years.
We had to ‘click and collect’ the paint (because of lockdown) so I knew the paint colours were a bit of a risk because we couldn’t just replace them. However, it is easy for me to make excuses not to decorate so I decided to take the risk on both colours and amount.
So, luckily, whilst we were choosing paint, we decided we were going to do one wall different because it would all look similar, although somewhat fresher. We painted the other (fireplace) wall green and of course, it dried out minty green and I wanted a lighter garden green, you know when the leaves first come out, sort of green. So that was a bit disappointing although I have to say, now I’ve got all my artwork up and furniture in, it looks kind of funky and modern and I’m really pleased with it. All the hard work paid off. I haven’t bought any new lighting, rugs, etc. because I feel it can wait until we are out of this lockdown.
All in all, I enjoyed the above tasks. It is better than being bored and scared. I found the whole project of decorating quite cathartic. No, I can’t believe I’ve just said that either!!! Fundamentally, it is good for my head to get on with stuff.
One thing I’ve learnt through this, is that I thought I was quite lazy but I actually like to keep busy. Hubby often walks into a room, sees me doing something, and mumbles something about “what is she up to now?” One tip, I can mention is to change your ornaments/art/photos etc. around. It gives the room a refresh. I took a much loved surrealist original painting from the dining room, into the lounge and changed all the other paintings and I love the change.
Since all this I’ve been reading loads and surprise, surprise escaping the world, by walking.

Thanks for reading. It is a bit of a rambling ‘type and post’ one. Comment about what you’ve been up to.
Toodle pip.
Andrea x

The new shopping experience and ideas for my future blog…

Apparently, in Italy, they had panic buying but after a couple of weeks the shops were fully stocked again and people calmed down. To be fair, I’ve been fairly lucky because David and I did a big shop before the panic started and were able to buy loo rolls and essentials. However, I understand it has been dreadful for people, particularly the elderly, vulnerable and health workers who have worked long shifts.

I can’t understand why people cannot shop as normal. Food shops won’t close even in a lockdown situation. Apparently, the supermarkets are employing temporary staff. Anyway, recently I had a bad day, full of anxiety and decided to go to our local farm shop. It was fully stocked with fruit, vegetables, pickles, mayonnaise, salad, wine, beer, ham, bacon and it was quiet. Bliss!!!

When I told my friend, she could shop the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to our local supermarket, she informed me she was going to make use of her local grocers and the farm shop ‘because we don’t want to lose it’. Very sensible.

So, thought I’d remind people there are other options other than supermarkets:

Tips:
Go to your local shops
Farm Shops
Garden Centre (Ours has an excellent meat counter)
Small ‘I sell everything’ grocers
Pubs/Restaurants are now selling takeaways
Order online (which I’ve only done once, and hated)*
Click and Collect*

*These options don’t appear to be available at the moment. Panic buying!

After this post, I will be writing most days a diary type blog. I think it is vital to record what you are feeling, doing and seeing.

Update: David ventured forth to the local middle sized supermarket and remarked that ‘it wasn’t too bad.’ Although still didn’t have loo rolls and limited brands. Perhaps, the nincompoops now have enough sanitiser, baby food, wipes, washing powder, ready meals, etc. Let’s hope so.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Hastings Old Town

Wellington and South Island Highlights… New Zealand

Wellington

We spent the period on and around 25th December in Wellington. The time was taken up exploring the city, going around galleries, museums (Te Papa) and larking about on the beach. Yes, Wellington has a splendid beach.

It also has lots of craft beer pubs with quirky decorations. We endeavoured to check these out of course. The city is lively, although became rather quiet on Christmas Day because nothing opens which is understandable.

I did succumb to booking a Christmas dinner but apart from that did very little to celebrate it this year. Usually, I entertain the family and this year was certainly a change from that. Probably back to normal next year because I did miss the (grown up) children.

It is good to have a change from the usual routine though and I did enjoy the day but it was a little surreal. I might add that it has been quite easy to forget about Christmas because they just don’t seem to make such a fuss about it here in NZ.

We stayed in Cuba St which is near the main centre of Welly. It is also near the cool bars, cafes and indy shops. We passed many happy hours wandering around Wellington taking in the views, ornamental arty displays, local architecture and beaches. There is a bucket fountain in Cuba Street which, in my humble opinion, is too stupid and splashed water everywhere.

We had a look around the old St Paul’s Cathedral which was resplendent with Christmas decorations and wooden interiors. Afterwards we went up on the cable car and appreciated the fabulous views of the city. Loved looking at all the weather board cliff side properties and some have their own cable cars!

It turned out to be a successful holiday break and a useful stop for the ferry.

South Island

So we caught a ferry to the South Island to explore the quieter part of New Zealand. Because we’ve been having a road trip, I decided to have a break from blogging during the Christmas period. Also, I’ve had some troubling family news from home so wasn’t really in the mood for writing. However, things have improved, January beckons and I need to write so here are some very basic highlights..

The Ferry Crossing

Before we started exploring we caught the ferry across which goes along the Cook Strait, through the Marlborough Sounds and is so spectacular, many journalists have said it is one of the best scenic ferry rides in the world and I concur.

It takes three and half hours and is enjoyable. Also, when you arrive at Picton, the beautiful natural landscape continues.

Kahurangi National Park

Firstly, we explored the top of the South Island by driving to the Kahurangi National Park. This is the area for holiday makers and there are plenty of those in December/January onwards. The beaches are sublime, particularly the Kaiteriteri beach. Some are quite difficult to reach and some are just wild and unspoilt. Something you don’t really see much elsewhere and impressive.

Onwards down the west coast towards Nelson and the Ruby Coast. This takes in a landscape which is diverse. Large wild wind swept beaches, geological sea cliffs, earthquake shattered slopes, serene lakes and the occasional falls.

I drove through a tiny place called Charleston and hubby shouted out that we need to stop there. It is easy to drive, mindlessly because it is so rugged and quiet. Hardly any traffic in New Zealand and you can blink and miss places that are relevant to your journey.

Hokitika

We stopped at Hokitika and enjoyed an elevated walk, 20 metres above the forest floor. This area is fascinating because it contains plants related to some of the earliest species to colonise the Earth. The temperate lowland forest is dominiated by Podocarp trees, ferns, mosses, liverworts and hornworts. All have ancient origin.

During the walk we climbed a tower and had an even higher view. This included the mountains to the east, the Southern Alps, formed from the collision of the pacific Plate and a number of glaciations, which have helped form the landscape including lakes, valleys and hills.

Ross

During part of this road trip we often stopped the car for short walks towards falls and it is exciting to see the flora of the NZ forest on the way. We stopped at Ross and decided to do the Water Race Walkway. This walk takes you past Ross’ newest lake which was formally a gold mine and along the gold mining area to include the A & T Burt Sluice Nozzle which was used up to the 1900s, Jones Creek (the public paning area), and through regenerating native forest, passing numerous old gold workings, tunnels and dam sites. We also passed a miner’s hut before entering a historic cemetery with views of the Ross area. A great walk and very interesting too. Also, I might mention we passed a family panning for gold during the walk!

Pancake Rocks

The above area lies on the edge of Paparoa National Park and is a significant feature due to the indented coves, rock pillars and pancake rocks at Dolomite Point, near Punakaiki. Evenly layered stacks of limestone have been eroded to form surge pools and blowholes. They do look like pancakes and apparently have taken thirty million years to form! They are formed from fragments of dead marine creatures and plants. Water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of limestone. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed where water, wind and salt spray eroded the softer layers leaving a ‘pancake’ stack of harder limestone.

New Year’s Eve – Haast

We stopped at a place called Haast. A one horse town if ever there was one. After locating a hotel we were advised the local pub had a band on and the hotel were able to take us there and back.

Off we went to the pub. It was packed with locals and we got chatting to them. Apparently, they love our TV particularly the comedy. One lady told us how she had moved from Taunton (Somerset), nine years ago and how she loves New Zealand. I admitted it was a good job I didn’t come to NZ when I was young, because I’d have wanted to move to NZ. (No litter, traffic, tedious politics and shock horror, you can flipping park your car when visiting the local town.) It was a good evening with lots of reminiscing about England and the wonders of NZ. To be honest, I do prefer home and I actually love where I live with the fruit orchards, beautiful countryside, historical architecture, family and friends. Miss the dog walking and even the gym too.

Unfortunately, we made the mistake of leaving before midnight and the hotel bar closed at 11.30!!! Can you imagine our shock? Anyway, onwards and upwards. It is noticeable people in this part of the world don’t celebrate this time of year as in England haha. Little bit of a culture shock which doesn’t do me any harm.

Queenstown

I’ve not mentioned that during our time in the above area of Haast and surroundings the weather was pretty awful. We weren’t able to fly above the Westland National Park and famous glaciers (Franz Joseph/Fox), due to the inclement weather. We may try again later.

When we drove toward Queenstown we finally saw the clouds part and sun shine. The area is lovely and we’ve been to Wanaka and Arrowtown and on a magnificent steam boat ride along the Wakatipu lake. The lake is pretty and we’ve stayed in an apartment overlooking Lake Wakatipu which is quite a breath taking distraction as I’m typing this, I can tell you.

The water looks very blue and clean and that is because it is. Scientists have rated it 99.9% pure. You are better off dipping in your glass in the lake than buying bottled water. Can’t think why you’d want to buy bottled water anyway, especially if you live in the UK.

Queenstown is clearly the hipster place because it is full of them. Queenstown is as much a verb as a nown because it is the adventure capital and where bungy jumping was invented. No, I’m not going to attempt a jump, in case you are wondering. I’m happy wandering around the lake, town and surrounding area. It is a beautiful place.

Thanks for reading. The news from home is encouraging too.

Sources

https://www.westcoast.co.nz/plan-your-trip/punakaiki-pancake-rocks-and-blow-holes/

Lonely Planet New Zealand

Walking and meeting people we know! Taupo Lake, New Zealand

Taupo

This place is the centre of NZ’s North Island and so beautiful. People aren’t exaggerating about the stunning scenery here, it is truly incredible.

On the advice of the nice lady at the motel where we are staying, we went for a walk to see the Huka Falls. This was even more lovely than expected. Again, the main surprise is the crystal blue water. The photos on this blog post are not photoshopped. This is the colour of the water as we strolled towards the cascading falls. One of the best walks, I’ve ever done, if not the best one. Also, the colour of the foliage is incredible. The light of the sun, gleaming onto the leaves gives a magnificent, surreal glow.

The falls themselves consist of 200,000 litres of water plunging nine metres off the rock face every second! This amount of water could fill an Olympic pool every minute. It is not advised to attempt white water rafting here because the falls have claimed the craft of many river users.

The clear, reflective racing water before the falls is just as breathtaking. Although it is fun to see the tumbling bubbles, hear the noise and enjoy the natural beauty of Nature at work. Apparently the flow is so strong it prevents the migration of trout and eels which isn’t surprising.

The volcanic caldera that forms Lake Taupo drains into Huka Falls and it is quite magical to walk this trail. It is also great to see all the young people chilling out by and in the water too. Certainly more fruitful than staring at screens all day!

The next day we took a drive around the lake towards Tongariro National Park and enjoyed the close up vision of Mount Ruapehu and Mount TongarIro and surrounding area.

The landscapes are incredible. The massive waters of Lake Taupo and momentous panorama peaks of Tongariro National Park, ancient forests, rivers, falls does make this road trip memorable. Unfortunately, we were feeling a little delicate…

The evening before, we decided to explore the local restaurants and bars. After a rather strange meal of bread coated steak, vegetables and chips we admired the momentous sun sets and went in one of the lake front bars. As I was enjoying a drink, I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t gawping at the sun set over the mountains (mentioned above). Suppose if you live in NZ, you are used to the impressive sights.

Anyway, we went to another bar and I thought I recognised the chap buying a drink. Told hubby thought I’d spotted his friend’s son. My husband started randomly shouting his name and he turned around. He confirmed his identity and invited us to join them. Crikey. We had a great evening discussing NZ, etc. What are the chances of walking into a bar and recognising your friend’s son from our home town, in England? Small world or what? We couldn’t believe it! Has this ever happened to you? Another great evening.

 

Enjoy the break everyone and a Happy New Year to you all. Thanks to all those who’ve supported my blog and I look forward to writing some more posts soon. 

Cheers,

Andy 🙂

 

New Zealand, Taupo – Adventures

Yes, you’ve got to do it, haven’t you? New Zealand is the place for them after all. Adventures.

Well, hubby did the white water rafting but I draw the line at being out of control in a dinghy. However, I did enjoy the jet boating. This is enormous fun and felt safe too.

An adrenaline ride is what you endure, mean enjoy haha. Managed not to scream unlike some and it was fun and interesting. The driver took us to Makoia Island which is majestic and now a wildlife area/bird sanctuary. We enjoyed many speed bumps over waves and some really good spins. Fabulous.

Next day, we treated ourselves to a seaplane ride to the White Island. They call it a Floatplane Adventure, and it was too.

Honestly, if you like venturing up to the sky, in a 1976 Austin mini, then this is for you. Well, this is what it felt like especially at first. A tiny craft shaking about the landscape. Thankfully it did settle down and we saw some magnificent views of dolphins tumbling in the sea.

Yes, we flew over New Zealand’s permanently active volcano, White Island. Something I won’t forget in a hurry! What amazing aerial views of the island’s crater lake and ever changing activities.

As if that wasn’t enough we continued across the Pacific Ocean to Mount Tarawera. It erupted in 1886 leaving massive craters and cracks.

During the experience we enjoyed magnificent views of the coast, national parks, volcanoes and the huge Kalangaroa forest. Then a gradual descent back to Rotorua via the Walmangu Volcanic Valley and lakes. Flipping amazing.

Rotorua, New Zealand

We came to Rotorua to visit the incredible earth forces so that’s what we did.

Te Puia

The first place, above, also has exhibitions about Maori culture, kiwi habitat, architecture and Maori arts.

Te Puia is an area of geothermal activity with bubbling mud pools and geysers shooting 30 metres, twice an hour. Mud from heated pools was used by Maori to treat ailments such as cuts and burns. The acidic mud contains minerals which rejuvenate the skin and is considered far more beneficial than bandages as they leave a scar. This encouraged Rotorua to become a spa town from the 1880s and today the mud is sold around the world.

The geysers are amazing too. As we came towards this park by car, we saw random steam billowing out of the ground amongst the natural landscape. They function from hot water deep beneath the earth. Narrow chambers where water becomes pressurised and heated up beyond boiling point. The mix of steam and boiling water is sprayed out as a geyser.

It is extraordinary to see this natural phenomenon. I quite like spotting the tiny, natural mud pool or small hole in a stream with tiny bubbles escaping.

Also, it is fascinating to see Maori folk carving greenstone, whale bones, wood, view art and weaving. Whalebone is highly valued because of the spiritual associations with the ocean. We watched a man intricately carve a whalebone and let us touch and admire his work.

Onwards, to observe the carved ornaments and adornments which are still worn today. These are considered a life force and not just decorative. They are physical representations of spiritual connections with the environment and their culture.

Seeing the carving is interesting because it is not only clever but different from anything you may have experienced before. Raga is a wood which is tough and durable so often used for weapons and tools. The totara tree is a pink/red wood and used for canoes, buildings and carving. The tree is found throughout New Zealand and when an important chief dies, they say ‘a mighty totara has fallen’.

This area is well worth visiting because it covers so much. Te Puia spans 70 hectares within the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and contains many historical facts regarding individual geysers, mud pools, hot springs and silica formulations. Also, you may see the native Kiwi bird, wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The historical facts and stories are extremely interesting and we had a great day and learnt a lot of cultural and local information too.

Wai-O-Tapu

Another interesting place which consisted of three walks and a geyser demonstration.

As you explore the area you see an amazing selection of volcanic domes, craters, cold and boiling pools of mud, water and steaming fumaroles. You also get a bit of a workout because there  are quite a few hills and steps as well. All good fun and you won’t see such incredible sights anywhere else.

What fascinated me are the colours in the area which are natural and due to different mineral elements showing nature as a wonderful thing.

Green – Colloidal sulphur/ferrous salts

Orange – Antimony

Purple – Manganese oxide

White – Silica

Yellow-primrose – Sulphur

Red-brown – Iron oxide

Black – Sulphur and carbon

 

 

Next post is all about fun, fun and more fun…